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Big Data Workshop: SSO, a strategic and operational challenge for broadcasters

Over 50 delegates from across the EBU membership as well as representatives of the press, commercial media and IT companies took part in an EBU Big Data Initiative workshop in Brussels on 17-18 October. The workshop gave participants the opportunity to exchange knowledge and experiences on Single Sign-On (SSO) tools and to discuss how best to implement SSO strategies.

SSO tools are increasingly used today in many sectors because they make it possible to provide end-users with one single digital account and log-in to access services across several platforms and applications. During the workshop, presentations showed how SSO can be utilized to create the best content offers and best services for users. Speakers from the media sector and beyond shared their hands-on experience and offered practical takeaways.  

While the subject may at first hand appear as a predominantly technical issue, workshop discussions clearly highlighted the strategic nature of SSO, including the challenges linked to establishing SSO whilst staying true to the public service mission. Demonstrating the value of these tools to end-users and within organizations, with top management in a key position to impulse implementation within and across orgnizations, is also a key challenge. There was nevertheless broad agreement on the importance of having SSO services and that in order to match consumer needs, public service media (PSM) need to be able to offer content personalization, easy access and importantly, high quality content.

EBU President and RTBF Administrator General Jean Paul Philippot opened the workshop by stressing the importance of data and how public service media companies need to keep pace with technological innovation. “30 years ago it was petroleum companies who were top of the stock market, today it is media companies, driven by data. In this digital world where we are switching from one-to-many services towards one-to-one services content personalisation is key and public service media can lead the way.” He highlighted SSO tools as an important aspect of new services.

David Teague from the BBC provided participants with the BBC experience of SSO, highlighting that it takes time to implement these strategies and that  “People don’t mind signing in, the key is to make it easy enough because users will only go for the content they love.

Pierre-Nicolas Schwab, Big Data Manager at RTBF and Chair of the EBU Big Data Initiative Steering Group said: "SSO is an important building block of a data strategy. It's the first point of entry to offer personalized services. Examples from several public service media organizations show that SSO helps to make audiences grow and sustain digital strategies",

He also emphasized the trust aspect of SSO and that “SSO is an important tool to help comply with the EU GDPR (EU General Data Protection Regulation) which becomes applicable next year. Not only will SSO services enable us to keep pace with consumer trends and services but will also allow us to ensure high levels of consumer privacy”.

Key questions discussed throughout the workshop focused on how to ensure consumers want to sign in, how to safeguard their privacy and the need to balance the role of PSM as trustworthy and independent broadcasters with the need to offer consumers the latest services and technological innovations. Tim Rowell, from Piano.io highlighted the importance of incentivizing people to use SSO by ensuring that once signed in there is additional, exclusive content and that by focusing on loyalty as opposed to volume of users, there is a greater chance of success with SSO strategies.

Guenaelle Collet, EBU Big Data Initiative Manager and Pierre Nicolas Schwab closed the workshop and highlighted the main conclusions that personalization and reaching young audiences are crucial, and trust remains central to SSO services. The upcoming deadline to comply with the EU GDPR will also create momentum to set-up 'futureproof' SSO services.

At an organizational level there is a need for data literacy, SSO and new service awareness. Ultimately, what remains of utmost importance is the offer: the content and services you are providing are what will ensure that consumers will use SSO.


Preferential rates are available until 29 September at the Hotel Metropole, situated in Central Brussels near the famous Grande Place.

Please complete the following form and send it to resa@metropolehotel.be no later than 29 September in order to book your room.


RTBF Headquarters
Boulevard Reyers, 52
1044 Brussels, Belgium




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